How do you ensure inclusive recruitment and selection?
How do you organize your HR policy to attract and retain more women and minorities? We share some practical tips and best practices.
In case of equal suitability, equal opportunities: this is how you ideally organize HR processes. However, it often doesn’t work that way in practice. We are unconsciously tempted to hire people who resemble us (‘mirror-tocracy’) and new candidates are often sought within existing networks (‘old boys network’). Even the choice of words in a job text influences the degree of diversity of the candidates, it turns out in this session – and that goes beyond just requiring (m/f) behind the job title.
Marieke van Herwerden, Head of Recruitment at Arcardis, talks about her company’s D&I policy in the working group. Various measures resulted in an increase in the proportion of women in management positions from 22 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2020. Three out of eight members of the management team are women, and half of the members of the Supervisory Board are women. For this, the company received the Diamond Award 2020 from Talent to the Top. Britt Breure, HR director at AFAS, also explains in this session how her company approaches D&I. At AFAS, diversity is actively pursued, with good result: between 2010 and 2020, the share of women rose from 14 to 29 percent.
- Radiate diversity
An easy way to start with a more diverse HR policy is to take care of the recruitment page and marketing, says Van Herwerden. “Showing diversity attracts diversity. So make sure you show in all your expressions that you are a diverse company. Man, woman, old, young, different cultural backgrounds, handicaps: everyone belongs”. This is also the message of Arcadis’ #ProudToBeMe campaign earlier this year. “We communicate emphatically: you can take your whole self to work.
The recruitment page at AFAS has also been adapted, says Breure. “We show that we are no longer the white men’s stronghold that we once were. In addition, the CEO speaks out in blogs in favor of diversity and against racism. “This is directly mirrored in the applicants. Where previously it was mainly Johns and Peters who knocked on the door, we now see that a much broader group wants to work here.
- Ensure a diverse selection process
Adaptations in the selection process also contribute to diversity. “Strict conditions apply at Arcadis,” says Van Herwerden. “Are there no female candidates for a leadership role? Then the procedure does not start. Another condition is diversity in the selection committee. “That, too, is a tough requirement. If there are no women available from our own team, we ask a woman from another team to join us.
For new management positions at AFAS, we first check whether there is a suitable female candidate. Previously, managers were immediately shown a photo of the applicant. “We have adjusted that. It’s only a small thing, but it can still contribute to diversity. A first impression can be decisive and this prevents people from being immediately judged on their appearance”.
- Anchoring diversity in your corporate culture
D&I measures can create resistance. This happened when at Arcadis the recruitment bonus for bringing in a new female employee was made twice as high as that for bringing in a man. “There was a lot to do,” says Van Herwerden. “But now everyone understands why we’re doing this: a culture change doesn’t happen by itself.
“D&I policy involves a lot of emotion,” confirms Breure. That’s why it’s important that diversity is anchored in the corporate culture, she says. “At our monthly Culture Café, the importance of diversity is mentioned every time. In addition, AFAS has an intranet dashboard on which the proportion of women in the company is tracked: another way to keep the subject in the spotlight.
“The more often you talk about it, the more it’s going to live,” says Van Herwerden. She emphasizes the importance of commitment from the top. For example, Arcadis participates in the Pride Amsterdam every year, to which the CEO of Arcadis Global joined last year. The Arcadis Summit also recently attended a ‘meet and greet’ with fifty highly educated status holders. “In this way, as a company, you show that you really value diversity. For a buddy project to support a status holder, we have twice as many registrations for buddies as the number of status holders to be supported. That shows that there is a lot of support for such initiatives”.
- Take care of your job postings’ text
Marcel Leeman of Textmetrics joins us to tell us how you can make business communication – such as job postings – more inclusive. Using AI and text technology, Textmetrics gives directions on how to make a text more inclusive. For example, the tool indicates which words are often associated with men and which are more associated with women, warns against phrases that may indicate age discrimination, gives clues about the language level, and offers an ‘accessibility check’ indicating whether the site is suitable for people with a disability. At Arcadis, using Textmetrics software to make job postings more inclusive has led to a 10 percent increase in female applicants.
“Be as precise as possible in what you mean,” is one of Leemans’ tips for an inclusive job posting. ‘Analytical’ can be interpreted as a masculine trait, but this is not the case for precise descriptions such as ‘can distinguish between main and side issues’ and ‘is able to quickly see connections’. Furthermore, he advises against formulating a long list of requirements. “It is well known that women take demands more seriously and are more likely to drop them if they think they cannot meet something”
Finally: does the addition ‘M/F’ behind a job title help to attract women? “At Arcadis we don’t, at the request of the LGBT+ community,” says Van Herwerden. “Not everyone fits in the M or F box”. Even at AFAS they don’t do M/F entries. However, every job description does state: ‘Are you underrepresented in our industry or this job area, and are you therefore hesitating to apply? Don’t give in to doubt, we encourage you to apply!’
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